Amazing Facts About The Milky Way Galaxy: The Big Bang to the Formation of New Stars
The Milky Way Galaxy is where the Solar System is located and where Earth is situated. At night it is seen as a hazy band of light across the sky. Photographers had been taking long-exposure images of the Milky Way for the longest time. If you live in a polluted area, though, chances are you will not see the Milky Way.
It has also been given credit for helping tired people relax when camping in the outdoors. The Milky Way is indeed a significant part of the universe. Did you know, though, that until the early 1920s, most people thought the Milky Way contained all the stars in the universe? Now, most people know that the Milky Way is just one of the many galaxies in the ever-expanding universe.
Listed below are some of the interesting facts about the galaxy we call home.
The Sun is not the oldest star
Many think that our very own star is the oldest and biggest star in the Galaxy. That is not the case, as more than half of the Milky Way’s stars are way older than our own. Sneden’s Star, for example, is estimated to be 13 billion years old compared to our Sun’s 4.603 billion years. Also, the Sun rotates around the Milky Way and is estimated to have completed 20 trips so far.
The Galaxy Rotates
Since rotation seems to be the norm in the solar system, we can deduce that the same is happening to the Galaxy. The Milky Way is constantly rotating and is never stationary. You can think of it as a gas-powered vehicle that would continue to move until it runs out of fuel. The Milky Way is shaped like a barred spiral with its two arms, both of which move across space.
While many would think of the Milky Way as a giant galaxy, it is not the biggest. For example, a similarly-shaped galaxy, M87, is home to 15,000 globular clusters, compared to the Milky Way’s 150. It is also part of a bigger supercluster, known as the Virgo supercluster. To a degree, man has always known that we are part of something bigger.
If you think that only Beyoncé has a “Halo”, better read carefully. The Milky Way is composed of 85% dark matter, which means that the rest are white or bright matter, which means it has a halo. This is invisible to the eye, and anyone watching from outside the galaxy will likely not see it unless they made investments in the right technology.
Stars and Planets
Scientists have said that there are as many planets as there are stars in the Milky Way. That means there are at least 100 billion stars to the more than 100 billion planets in the Milky Way.
The National Geographic revealed that the center of the galaxy is creating bubbles of extremely energetic particles and hot gas. They are also fueled by a wind blowing at 2 million miles per hour. Do you know what else is at the center of this big galaxy and all other galaxies? A massive black hole.
As with anything that has a beginning, the Milky Way will not last. At 13.51 billion years, it is among the oldest galaxies in the universe. It was born shortly after the Big Bang happened 13.8 billion years ago. The disk and bulge of the galaxy, however, are relatively new. So when will the end happen? In about 4.5 billion years, it is predicted that the Andromeda Galaxy would collide and merge with the Milky Way to form a new mega galaxy. If the Earth had not been consumed by the sun then, scientists say that there’s a great degree of certainty that the Earth will survive.
Where did the Milky Way get its name? It actually comes from an Ancient Greek legend. According to mythology, Zeus brought the baby Hercules to Hera to breastfeed him in secret. Hera was sleeping at that time, and at one point, she pulled away, causing her milk to spray into the night sky, thereby creating the Milky Way.
We can conclude that the Milky Way is interesting to study, and hopefully, more online classes on this will be created so that people can learn more.
Cover – Pixabay / TheDigitalArtist,
Photo #1 – YouTube / Anton Petrov,
Photo #2 – YouTube / NASA Video
Photo #3 – YouTube / Anton Petrov,
Photo #4 – Pixabay / Clkr-Free-Vector-Images